>Yesterday I attended a ribbon cutting at an affordable housing development in the Bronx. My involvement in the project came from my former job, when I gave the community developers a small grant to cover some of the costs of planning a child care center to build into the ground floor. The overall $14.5 million budget led to the creation of affordable apartments for 63 families and 120 child care slots for children living in the building and the community at large.*
My former former employer financed a good portion of the construction costs, so it was very nice to catch up with people at the ribbon cutting. Near the end of the endless blathering during the ceremony, another familiar face moseyed into the building. Although I am generally clueless, I recognized Ed Norton immediately. He's the grandson of the founder of my former former employer, and when he was a struggling Off-Off-Off Broadway actor in New York, Ed worked on community development. I've seen him at other events (once, years ago, with Salma Hayek in tow), and he is just as handsome in person as he is in the movies. He's also taller than I thought he'd be.
Turns out that Norton found out that this particular community developer wanted to start doing green buildings, and sustainable design is a pet cause of Norton's. He became personally involved in helping raise money to cover the incrementally higher costs of a green roof and solar panels to reduce energy costs and emissions. Norton was not on the agenda to speak, but as soon as he sauntered into the community room in a crisp white button down shirt and jeans, he was called up to the podium to speak. I almost lost it at that point because I had already (barely) tolerated the first half of the program which involved six politicians talking about how awesome they were and the final speakers were the financial folks who keep it short and sweet, and I was itching to see the fucking child care center already. Norton half-bloviated, half-inspired.
Regardless, I was impressed that he trekked up to a slightly inconvenient location in the Bronx to support this important work. There was no media or paparazzi on his ass, no entourage surrounding him, just a guy who felt strongly that poor people deserve affordable, healthy, and safe places to live. It was cool.
*I cannot for the life of me understand why all the luxury condo developers don't bother including child care centers in their projects. The shortage of quality early childhood program space is increasingly acute for the super wealthy as more families with young children opt to stay in the city and live in these condos to raise their infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers. My friend Logan told me that 600 children tried to enroll in the 30 slots that were available in her son's preschool in Tribeca. There's no excuse - condo developers are just lame and exceptionally stupid.